Vietnam attends 50th ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting

Vietnam attends 50th ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is interviewed by reporters as he attends the 50th Asean Foreign Ministers' Meeting and its dialogue partners in Manila on Sunday.

The ministers spoke highly of the achieved early harvests, including the establishment of hotline communications among senior officials of the ministries of foreign affairs of China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states in response to maritime emergencies, he said. "That is also provided for in the just concluded UN Security Council Resolution endorsed by the 15-member National Security Council, including the USA".

"We warmly welcomed the improving cooperation between ASEAN and China and are encouraged by the conclusion and adoption of the framework of a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, which will facilitate the work for the conclusion of an effective COC on a mutually-agreed timeline", the foreign ministers said.

The United States said it would also seek to build unified pressure on the North at the Manila event - known as the ASEAN Regional Forum.

On Saturday, ASEAN foreign ministers adopted a separate joint statement on the situation in the Korean Peninsula, with its provisions being included into the final joint communique.

"These developments seriously threaten peace, security and stability in the region and the world", the statement said.

Critics say the outline of key principles is lopsidedly in China's favor and suspect that Beijing may have consented to it to divert protests as it tries to complete and fortify man-made islands in the South China Sea with a missile defense system.

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China has continued island-building and militarization activities in the disputed waters, setting aside an global arbitration ruling that invalidated Beijing's sweeping claims in the region. Vietnam is on its own to have stronger language on the South China Sea. This in turn led to offers of billions of dollars in investments or aid from China.

China has in recent years also successfully lobbied other ASEAN nations, particularly Cambodia, to support its diplomatic manoeuvring in the dispute.

While the minister did not refer to specific outside parties, he previously urged the ASEAN to resist outside influence when dealing with the dispute.

A code of conduct has always been discussed, with both sides agreeing in 2002 on a loose set of guidelines known as the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the region.

Another pressing issue in Manila will be the growing terrorism threat in the region.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is also set to meet Duterte on the sidelines of the event, with those talks expected to cover the Philippine president's controversial drug war that has claimed thousands of lives.

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